They had huts, they had farms, they had ceremonies,” Ortega said. They say some extreme dips and spikes could be attributed to algae getting caught in the system or a mud turtle passing through. This is from an Army Corps of Engineers video. The spring flows into a pond just a few paces from the U.S.-Mexico border at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2019. The construction rate is almost two miles per day. This scene illustrates why environmentalists are deeply skeptical of the government's plans. They travel on foot, the round trip of 300 miles, from the reservation across the border to the salt flats at Mexico's Sea of Cortez. “I can feel my ancestors there, you just feel them. "We’re not really confident in the data we’re getting from the transfuser," he said. "What’s the specific impact of the border wall construction? Those barriers topped out at 18 feet. University of Arizona professor and ecologist Michael Bogan says he's awed by the sheer abundance of life there. Morawe said the park carried out a few of its own spring measurements in July that show a faster flow. This story is part of ongoing coverage of water in the western U.S., produced in collaboration with Arizona Public Media and public radio station KUNC in Colorado. We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020. Nelson said the agency also said they would build an additional access road from Montezuma Pass down to the border along Yaqui Ridge, which is what the Arizona Trail largely follows as it winds down to historic Border Monument 102, the official start of the route. But the rest of the landscape is also changing. CBP says this stretch of desert is a busy drug and human trafficking corridor. It's called Quitobaquito Springs inside the organ pipe cactus refuge. It'll cost more than $10 million a mile. SUBSCRIBE NOW Only $5 for 3 months. He's the executive director for the Arizona Trail Association, which looks after the 800-mile-long route that begins at the international boundary in the Memorial and extends north to the Arizona-Utah state line. Time was when the Ladd ranch was overrun by unauthorized crossers. Tribal chairman Ned Norris Jr. NED NORRIS JR: We have lived in this area forever, and so a full blown out 30-foot wall would make it that much more difficult for our tribal citizens in Mexico and in the U.S. to be able to actively participate with family gatherings, with ceremonial gatherings. President Trump's border wall is going up between Arizona and Mexico, and it's generating controversy because of its proximity to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Native Americans lands. Ortega says it’s never looked worse than it does now. If you're going to build a wall, build it. The Trump administration plans on building or replacing up to 400 miles by the end of the year. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Resource Manager Rijk Morawe said the pond has been leaking intermittently since 2006 and got worse in January. The massive structure rising southwest of Tucson is nearly twice as tall. There’s life, there’s history, there’s strength there. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that the wall could negatively impact 23 endangered and at-risk species, including the Sonoran pronghorn antelope, and the National Park Service says construction could destroy 22 archeological sites. Here's NPR's John Burnett. What's more - Native Americans who live along the border say the wall will disrupt their traditions. The vast Tohono O'odham Nation shares 62 miles with Mexico. Construction of border barriers along the Arizona-Mexico border has continued despite a ruling the 9th U.S. Several thousand tribal members live south of the border, and they can pass back and forth without passports. It's erecting new 18 to 30-foot-tall concrete-filled steel bollards, along with security lights and an all-weather patrol road. USGS stands by their collection methods and says they monitor the device frequently. Critics are not appeased. To reach Montezuma Pass, which at 6,575 feet in elevation towers over the San Pedro Valley below, drivers must take a winding, narrow dirt road. "But it wasn't enough to stop wall construction," he added. Several other lawsuits challenging the Trump administration's decision to divert funds and issue waivers to expedite construction are pending. The non-profit submitted public comments in opposition to the project, and mobilized its supporters to do the same. Another one sits within Organ Pipe's boundary, about eight miles east of the spring. The agency says it is in regular contact with federal environmental officials, and it is doing its utmost to reduce impacts to the natural world. BURNETT: Traditions are important to the Antone family. There was an outcry, too, back in the late 2000s when President George W. Bush built the first generation of bollard wall. President Trump's wall will skirt one of the most beloved areas in the Southwest, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In mid-July, U.S Geological Survey data showed a flow of five and a half gallons per minute. ': Large Postelection Protests Seen In Several U.S. Cities, Poor Countries Fall Behind In Race To Reserve COVID-19 Vaccine, Trump Launches Broad Legal Gambit Paired With Public Doubt-Raising On Results. It's one of three species, along with a mud turtle and a pupfish, whose entire universe is this wetland. “You could do things today, and you might not see the effect of it for 20, 30, 50 years, 100 years.". This summer the pond has sunk so low that cracked mud flats appear in several places where water used to be. I met them recently walking westward along the state highway that runs through the reservation. Nabhan said the spring system is unique in the Sonoran desert, which used to be populated with similar spring-fed wetlands. All rights reserved. We're sitting beside a serene spring-fed pond fringed by cat tails and dive-bombed by dragonflies. Already, the barriers are encroaching on tribal lands from both sides. A well for the border wall is located seven miles west of Quitobaquito on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Morawe said. Scientists are still studying Quitobaquito, the Rio Sonoyta across the border and the deep aquifer that feeds them both, Meixner said. The surrounding mountains purple at dusk, as a bull scratches his haunches on a yucca. Bogan says that's the lowest it’s been in over a decade. At left, Quitobaquito Pond in March 2020. Reach the reporter at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @RafaelCarranza. I mean, we thought Bush was bad, but this is a whole nother order of magnitude. BURNETT: John Ladd's family has bred cattle in Arizona since it was a territory. Ortega says for a lot of people, Quitobaquito is one of the last places that feels like home. LAIKEN JORDAHL: There is a whole new level of recklessness that we are seeing under Trump. In the long run, we know it’s going to have an effect," he said. John Ladd reserves judgment on a wall through a federally protected wilderness. Meixner said that’s because the effects of groundwater extraction don’t show up that quickly. BURNETT: The Trump administration is building 63 miles of wall on the Arizona border to replace rundown pedestrian fences and vehicle barriers. “It was a traditional homestead for O’odham, for Hia C-ed O’odham. Accuracy and availability may vary. Morawe said the numbers are concerning, but he’s skeptical of some of the data so far. And that's what makes many of us so angry that's being done so fast outside the rule of law. Customs and Border Protection later said they don't save unhealthy plants like these. Circuit Court of Appeals issued June 26 saying the administration of President Donald Trump had unlawfully circumvented Congress's authority to allocate funds by transferring $2.5 billion from military construction projects to border wall construction. "Once the spring dries out, it might take a very long time for the spring to come back," he said. 341 miles of border wall system built and 240 miles currently under construction. So I don't really necessarily think it's a good idea. "As an association, our mission is to protect the trail and I feel like we failed in our mission, quite honestly," he said. We are relocating saguaro, organ pipe, ocotillo... BURNETT: But a half-mile away, I drove up on a big yellow bulldozer scraping the desert clean and mowing down cactus columns that are likely older than the young man operating the dozer. Ortega has been making trips to Quitobaquito every month since last August, when the Trump administration first started building a 30-foot border wall across Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. JOHN LADD: I support Donald Trump 100%. And we know that it'll have incredible impacts. Their ranch backs up to the Mexican border. The park occupies 4,750 acres on the southern end of the Huachuca Mountains, a rugged landscape with no paved roads. John Burnett, NPR News, Tucson. We also partner with news organizations throughout the southwest to fully cover water issues in the sprawling Colorado River basin. Last fall, Customs and Border Protection said it would need 84,000 gallons of water per day but agreed not to drill within five miles of Quitobaquito. JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: On a recent drive along Arizona's southern border, I watched a crew transplanting saguaro cactus out of the zone with they're about to build the wall. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. BURNETT: The Antone family, carrying a feathered walking stick, a statue of the Virgin and an American flag, then continue on their pilgrimage. NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. KEVIN DAHL: This is a wall to fulfill a campaign promise. CBP officials also said during the call they had not finalized the alignment of the border wall though the Huachuca Mountains, meaning that it may not follow the international boundary line, which is delineated with a rusting barbed wire fence. You feel the history, you feel the stories, you hear the songs, you feel it. U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday they would close access starting on July 13 to a popular hiking trail located in the Coronado National Memorial in southern Arizona in order to begin pre-construction activities, Matthew Nelson said. Arizona, and especially its public lands, have become the epicenter for border wall construction. The Arizona Republic reached out to Customs and Border Protection for comment. The Arizona Trail Association proposed a series of proposals to mitigate the impact, such as advocating for the use of technology in place of the fencing or rehabilitating the areas impacted by construction. In responses to questions from NPR, the agency says contractors will not drill for water within five miles of Quitobaquito Springs. "On top of that, we're in the hottest month of the year.". Still, he said any additional drilling from the aquifer should be avoided because the water level will be impacted eventually. The agency acknowledged the request, but had not responded as of Friday afternoon. Quitobaquito is the only natural habitat in the country for endangered species like the Sonoyta pupfish and mud turtle. LADD: When this 18-foot wall went in, it was obvious that immigrants quit coming through here. "What we have here is basically a worst case scenario where we have declining spring flow, declining water coming into the pond and a structural problem with the pond itself.
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